The Cure, London
Though historically feline, in practice the Cure are more like a tortoise: they move slowly, their shows generally last three hours, and they hibernate for long periods, taking more than four years between albums. Yet, of late, they’ve been working at what for them is breakneck speed. After a while away, they played the Albert Hall in the summer, and now they’re back for this three-night residency. Lately, there has been talk of the band continuing to revisit their albums at gigs, playing three at a time. That may not be the substance of these shows, but with their sharp pop and melancholic goth-rock, a rich variety is guaranteed.
Eventim Apollo, W6, Sun 21 to Tue 23
Method Man, Bristol, Leeds
Always in the advance party, Method Man was the first member of the Wu-Tang Clan to launch a solo career. Now, 20 years on, that’s how he appears again: out and about in the world on his own as the collective Wu launch their first group album in seven years. In truth, this is probably more by chance than design, Method Man’s career having been a sequence of occasionally inspired accidents: from pop crossover, to comedy film (generally in partnership with Redman, an East Coast hip-hop associate with whom he plays here), to a truly excellent performance as the treacherous Cheese in cop show The Wire. Meth isn’t the most versatile wordsmith, and his lisping flow can be indistinct, yet he’ll win you over by force of personality: his charisma, high spirits and endearing middle-aged swagger mounting a successful charm offensive.
O2 Academy Bristol, Sat 20; O2 Academy Leeds, Sun 21
For Fans Of Bands Presents, Bristol
As well as the Runrig enthusiast, New Year’s Eve falls alike on the indie fan. It’s in recognition of this that promoter For Fans Of Bands has put together this mini pub-rock crawl over two venues, allowing the indie-minded to see in the new year, and then party a fair way into it. Hysterical Injury bring some Savages like post-punk, but with more violent grunge riffing and slightly better singing. Nor do the fractionally bigger names disappoint. Gonga (lately signed to Invada, the label run by Bristol notable Geoff Barrow) bring quality stoner/doom metal, while headliners Future Of The Left present jumpy post-hardcore.
The Exchange and Stag & Hounds, New Year’s Eve
The seminal Dutch improvising group hit the Vortex again. Leading will be co-founder Han Bennink who stands over six foot tall and comes off like a member of the Goonies if they were a free jazz collective, often playing drumsticks using his mouth as a pitch modulator. Bringing in trad jazz, too, along with buckets of humour, the group will play music from their new album East Of The Sun.
The Vortex, N16, Sat 20
Ian Shaw, On tour
On the British jazz circuit, if it’s Christmas, it has to be Ian Shaw. At this time of year, the Welsh singer and pianist produces a unique fusion of seasonal sentiment and refreshing causticity, encyclopaedic knowledge of songs, and a one-man show which captivates jazzers and the unconverted alike. Shaw got rolling in the 1980s on the alternative cabaret circuit (he’s an accomplished stand-up comic and sometime actor, still), but he began showing his vocal class in the 90s, in meetings with jazz stars on both sides of the Atlantic. Shaw never handles a heartache ballad in a cool crooning manner; his humanity, technique, wit and openness to happenstance always adds an edge. Most shows simply feature Shaw and his piano, though the Altrincham gig partners him with Liane Carroll.
Brasserie Zedel, W1, Sat 20; ArtHouse Crouch End, N8, Sun 21; The Cinnamon Club, Altrincham, Mon 22; The Vortex, N16, New Year’s Eve
Igor Levit, London
The generation of twentysomething pianists is turning out to be a particularly talented one, with players such as Daniil Trifonov, Ingolf Wunder and Yulianna Avdeeva hitting the headlines. How they will all develop over the coming years is impossible to predict, but one confidently tipped to rise to the very top is the 27-year-old Russian-German Igor Levit, who is the focus of a four-concert series at the Wigmore over the next seven months.The series begins with a recital built around Beethoven’s monumental Hammerklavier Sonata, but also includes Bach, and a real curiousity in the form of the Peter Grimes Fantasy by British composer Ronald Stevenson. In the new year, Levit gives a lunchtime programme of Tchaikovsky (26 Jan), as well as a recital with tenor Simon Bode (8 Feb), and an evening of music by Cornelius Cardew and Frederic Rzewski (20 Jul).
Wigmore Hall, W1, Sat 27